“The guards shook
In fear of him.
Like dead men.”
ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ φόβου αὐτοῦ ἐσείσθησαν οἱ τηροῦντες καὶ ἐγενήθησαν ὡς νεκροί.
Matthew is the only one who mentioned that these guards were afraid. In the 3 other gospel stories, there was nothing about the guards at the tomb, even though there was a mention of the other men in the tomb. Thus, Matthew uniquely said that the guards or those keeping watch over the tomb (οἱ τηροῦντες) shook or trembled in fear (ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ φόβου αὐτοῦ ἐσείσθησαν) of this angel of the Lord. These guards became like dead men (καὶ ἐγενήθησαν ὡς νεκροί). They did not die, however.
“Pestilence went before him.
The plague followed close behind.
He shook the earth.
He made the nations tremble.
The eternal mountains
The everlasting hills
Along his ancient pathways.”
Habakkuk remarked that Yahweh was powerful. Pestilence went before him, while the plague followed him. Yahweh stopped and shook the earth. As he looked, the various countries trembled. The eternal mountains and the everlasting hills were shattered, as they sank low to provide a path for him.
“Thus says Yahweh.
‘Heaven is my throne.
The earth is my footstool.
What is the house
That you would build for me?
What is my resting place?
My hand has made
All these things.
So all these things are mine.’
‘But this is the one
To whom I will look.
I will look to the humble.
I will look to the contrite in spirit.
I will look to the one
Who trembles at my word.’”
This is an oracle about Temple worship. Yahweh said that heaven was his throne, while the earth was his footstool. What kind of resting house should they build for him? Yahweh has made everything, so that everything was his. What was he looking for? He wanted someone who was humble, contrite in spirit, and trembled at his word.
“An oracle concerning Egypt.
Yahweh is riding on a swift cloud.
He comes to Egypt.
The idols of Egypt
Will tremble at his presence.
The heart of the Egyptians
Will melt within them.
‘I will stir up
Egyptians against Egyptians.
They will fight
One against the other,
Neighbor against neighbor,
City against city,
Kingdom against kingdom.
The spirit of the Egyptians,
Will be emptied out.
I will confound their plans.
They will consult
The spirits of the dead,
And the familiar spirits.
I will destroy the Egyptians
Into the hand of a hard master.
A fierce king will rule over them.’
So says the Sovereign,
Yahweh of hosts.”
Isaiah presents an oracle of Yahweh about Egypt. He said that Yahweh was riding high on a cloud as he came to Egypt as the false idols of Egypt trembled. The hearts of the Egyptians began to melt. Then Yahweh said that he was going to stir up fighting among the Egyptians themselves against each other, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. They would all lose their spirit. They would be confused. Then they would consult their idols, their dead spirits, their ghosts, their mediums, their wizards, and all kinds of their strange spirits. Yahweh said that he was going to destroy the Egyptians as he was going to hand them over to a fierce king. Clearly Yahweh has spoken.
“I hate the double-minded people.
But I love your law.
You are my hiding place.
You are my shield.
I hope in your word.
Go away from me!
Thus I may keep the commandments of my God.
Uphold me according to your promise!
Thus I may live.
Let me not be put to shame in my hope!
Hold me up!
Thus I may be safe.
I have regard for your statutes continually!
You spurn all who go astray from your statutes.
Their cunning is in vain.
All the wicked of the earth,
You count as dross.
Therefore I love your decrees.
My flesh trembles for fear of you.
I am afraid of your judgments.”
The psalmist did not like those who were double minded since he loved single minded people and the law. He used the law as a shield as he hoped in the word of God. He wanted the evildoers to go away so that he could keep the commandments of God. He wanted God’s promise to sustain his life so that he would not be put to shame. He wanted to be held safe according to the statutes of God. He knew that God spurned those who went astray from the commandments. Their cunning ways were useless and not worth anything. This psalmist, on the other hand, loved the decrees of God. He trembled with fear because he was afraid of God’s judgments. So ends this section on the fifteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Samek.
“Why is it?
Why do you flee?
Why do you turn back?
Why do you skip like rams?
Why do skip like lambs?
Tremble at the presence of Yahweh!
Tremble at the presence of the God of Jacob!
He turns the rock into a pool of water.
He turns the flint into a spring of water.”
This short psalm concludes with wondering why nature was so submissive to Yahweh. Why did the Red Sea flee and spread apart? Why did the Jordan River turn back? Why were the mountains and hills skipping like rams and lambs? The answer was, of course, they trembled at the presence of Yahweh, the God of Jacob. Yahweh was able to turn rock and flint into water.
“He bowed the heavens.
He came down.
Thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub.
He flew in the air.
He came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering around him.
His canopy was thick clouds
Dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
There broke through his clouds
Hailstones and coals of fire.
Yahweh also thundered in the heavens.
The Most High uttered his voice.
He sent out his arrows.
He scattered them.
He flashed forth lightning.
He routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen.
The foundations of the world were laid bare.
At your rebuke!
At the blast of the breath of your nostrils!”
This psalm talks about Yahweh and his control of the heavens just like in 2 Samuel, chapter 22. Yahweh came out of the clouds with darkness beneath him. He came down from heaven riding in the sky on an angelic cherub on the wings of the wind. He, of course, was the source of the thunder and the lightning. His voice was like thunder as he sent lightening to chase his enemies. The seas shook and the foundations of earth trembled from the blast of breath from his nose. Yahweh had laid the foundations of the earth at the bottom of the sea. His nose had a big effect as a blast of his breath came upon the earth. Yahweh was directly interfering with the earth to help David through the use of thunder and lightning.
“Then the earth reeled.
The earth rocked.
The foundations also of the mountains trembled.
The foundations quaked.
Because Yahweh was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils.
Devouring fire came from his mouth.
Glowing coals flamed forth from him.”
Just like in 2 Samuel, chapter 22, Yahweh’s reaction was formidable. God was angry. The earth rocked and rolled. The foundations of the mountains and not the heavens as in 2 Samuel, trembled and quaked. Smoke and fire came from his mouth and nose. Yahweh’s face, nose, and mouth become important for expressing the feelings of the divine spiritual God. Just as in 2 Samuel, flames rose up all around with glowing coals.
“Now a part of the king’s army was spread out on the high hills. Some troops were on the plain. They advanced steadily and in good order. All heard the noise made by their multitude. All heard the marching of the multitude and the clanking of their arms. Everyone trembled for the army was very large and strong. But Judas and his army advanced to the battle. Six hundred of the king’s army fell. Eleazar, called Avaran, saw that one of the beasts was equipped with royal armor. It was taller than all the others. He supposed that the king was on it. So he gave his life to save his people and win for himself an everlasting name. He courageously ran into the midst of the phalanx to reach it. He killed men right and left. They parted before him on both sides. He got under the elephant. He stabbed it from beneath and killed it. However, it fell to the ground upon him and he died. When the Jews saw the royal might and the fierce attack of the forces, they turned away in flight.”
The king’s army was in the hills and on the plains. They marched in a steady good order. They made a great noise by marching with their clanking arms. Everyone was afraid of this large and strong army. However, Judas and his men attacked the king’s men and killed 600 of them. Then Eleazar, the brothr of Judas, decided to attack the elephant who he thought was carrying the king because of the royal armor. He set out to kill people as they got out of his way. He went under the elephant and then stabbed it. However, the elephant fell on him as it died and crushed him to death. Now when the Jews saw this and the fierce attack of the king’s men, they fled.
“Haman went out that day from the king happy and in good spirits. But when he saw Mordecai the Jew in the courtyard, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman restrained himself. He went home. Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh. Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches and the number of his sons. He told them about all the promotions with which the king had honored him. He explained how he had advanced above the officials and ministers of the king. Haman added.
‘Even Queen Esther let no one but me
Come with the king to the banquet that she prepared.
Tomorrow also I am invited by her,
Together with the king.
Yet all this does me no good,
As long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.’”
Haman was very happy as he left the king and Queen Esther. However, when he saw Mordecai in the courtyard, he was angry. Mordecai would not recognize his authority, but Haman remained calm and went home. Once at home, he called his friends and wife and told them how wonderful things were going. Haman was a rich man with many sons. He had been promoted and honored by the king. He was the second in command in the kingdom. In fact, he had been the only one invited to a dinner with the king and his wife that day and once again he was invited tomorrow. There was only one thing that really bothered him, the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.